He motioned for me to lie back and of course I did. A smart girl would’ve bolted then, made for the door. She wouldn’t have got far, but still. It was the difference between a girl that was actually divergent and one that only follows Shailene on Twitter. On Thanksgiving I Paypal’d fifty bucks to Standing Rock while everyone stood in the kitchen eating the pies I baked.
You don’t wear gloves? He laughed at that. He looked at me with that look, that one that said Silly thing, I actually like you and in a fleeting terrible ironic second I thought maybe he would like me enough not to hurt me.
He fastened the machine around my head. The straps were too tight and the metal buckle bit into my skin. I didn’t complain in the hopes he would say That’s a good girl again. He didn’t say it.
He dropped the last letter into the press and wiped his ink-stained hands off on an ink-stained rag. The moths threw themselves against my ribcage, a useless suicide. What the fuck is that buzzing? He was irritated now. Sorry, sorry. I glanced at my wrist, bound to the table. My Fitbit is freaking out.
I stared up at the fluorescent light until the machine lowered and blocked my view. Each steel line of each block letter sharp as a razor, glistening with blue ink, moved ever closer.
Contact. Fear replaced by pain. Blood trickled down my temple. Cold tears mixed with the blood and made pink puddles in my ears. He should have at least cared enough to cover my ears, I thought. The letters cut deep into my shallow forehead, inking an impression all the way to my bone.
He released the handle and the pressure subsided. The abrupt departure made a gross sucking sound. A vacuum.
He daubed my forehead with the dirty rag and undid the buckles. I don’t know what happens next. I need him to say it. I decide to ask. So, do I just go home? I gently touched my forehead. I guess everybody will know now, huh? He gave me that look again, the one that was almost fatherly, and he chuckled softly. Sweet one, everybody else already knew. He passed me a hand mirror.
Cindra Spencer lives in Colorado. She has an affinity for dark mysteries so she is often on the road inspecting health facilities. She occasionally dusts off her keyboard and pretends to be a writer.